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NCJ Number: 200478 Find in a Library
Title: Status Offenders: "Where Have They Gone and Who Cares?"
Journal: Juvenile and Family Justice Today  Volume:12  Issue:1  Dated:Spring 2003  Pages:29-30
Author(s): Hunter Hurst III
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 2
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the current situation of juvenile status offenders.
Abstract: Status offenses were labeled as noncriminal misbehavior 30 years ago. These offenses included running away from home, truancy, incorrigibility, curfew violation, consensual sex by minors, and underage drinking and smoking. Such behaviors were a part of the expected social development process for most children and were not subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Voluntary handling by families, school counselors, ministers, therapists, family services, social services, or mental health services was recommended. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was passed in 1974, reforming the court handling of status offenders and the deinstitutionalization of status offenders. In 1975, there was an estimated 144,000 status offender cases in the juvenile jurisdiction. In 2000, the estimate was 165,000. Status offenders have not been absorbed, normalized, or serviced by the voluntary community to the extent that they no longer come to court. Because standards were never established for the alternative services required to achieve voluntary resolution of status offender cases, the services did not materialize or become effective. Other reasons for the increase in status offenders include the cutting of human service budgets and the growth of child abuse and neglect cases. The greatest impetus for the return of status offenders to juvenile court has been the rediscovery of curfew laws. Safe havens after school are proliferating as a means of preventing violence. There has been success in keeping status offenders out of secure detention facilities. Now and as in the past, running away and incorrigibility account for two-thirds of those detained. Today, status offenders are supposed to remain in secure detention no more than 24 hours. Congress passed the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in 2002. If the progress in keeping status offenders out of the justice system is to continue, local resources must be developed and become effective. 2 endnotes
Main Term(s): Status offender deinstitutionalization; Status offense decriminalization
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Deinstitutionalization; Juvenile correctional reform; Juvenile diversion programs; Juvenile justice reform; Juvenile processing; Juvenile status offenses
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